Making the switch to a plant-based diet might seem challenging at first, but it's actually so simple, and a few smart shopping strategies can also help you save on food bills.
- Buy in season. Produce in season is almost always less expensive than out-of-season produce because it’s more abundant.
- Avoid pre-cut, washed, and packaged fruits and vegetables. They’re always more expensive than the whole foods (and a waste of packaging). If you need the convenience (for the office, on the road, etc.), go for it; just know that you’ll be paying more.
- Watch produce prices carefully. Locally grown fruits and vegetables sometimes cost less than imported produce, while at other times imported produce saves you a lot -- just be on the lookout for the best deals. (And be mindful of the carbon footprint -- how far your food had to travel to you and therefore how much fuel was required to get it there.)
- Shop at farmers’ markets at the end of the day. Farmers’ markets are a great place to find fresh, in-season, and locally grown produce for cheap -- especially if you shop at the end of the market day, when growers may be willing to sell their produce at a discount, rather than having to pack it up and take it back home with them.
- Don’t be afraid to buy frozen vegetables. Frozen veggies (especially store brands) are often cheaper than fresh ones, and they can actually be more nutritious, because the veggies are frozen right after they’re picked, preserving vitamins that are lost in transporting fresh veggies from the farm to the store. And of course, keep an eye out for sales and stock up your freezer with veggies that can be tossed into soups, stews, stir-fries, pasta, and many other dishes.
- Consider the value of your time. For most of us, time is just as valuable as money. We tend to think that eating fast food is less time consuming -- an illusion reinforced by a steady stream of fast-food company advertising. But in reality, the time that you spend driving to a fast-food restaurant and then idling in a drive-through could just as easily be spent at home with your family, cooking a simple meal. All it takes is a small initial time investment in learning to cook a few new meals. Even simpler, you can just convert the meals that you already eat into ones that fit your new lifestyle.
It’s easy to see that the hidden costs of eating meat are everywhere -- in how you feel day-to-day, in your prospects for a long life of good health, in the health of the land, the water, the animals, the workers… and your wallet. It’s pretty compelling, isn’t it?
Eating vegan -- or veganish -- is about very consciously choosing to disengage from an industry that makes us sick, abuses animals, pollutes the planet, and squanders precious resources. It's also about a better quality of life; having more energy and a lighter load (as well as a lighter conscience) and living longer and healthier.
And that's not something that can be measured in dollars and cents.
Please check out my new book, Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World for more information.